I hate that I have to write this post, but I cannot refrain any longer.
As #YesAllWomen has been taking off on Twitter, first I just started retweeting some of the more poignant posts, to share my support for the writers. Yes, I get it: “not all men.” But please understand, while “not all men” are monsters, “yes, all women” have been harassed or attacked or taught to avoid harassment or attacks.
And several times, various male friends have tried to explain to me that women just don’t understand how difficult it is to deal with male hormones and their sexual impulses and all the pain they endure from frustrated sexual urges. On one hand, I get how vulnerable he feels about admitting to me (or any woman) the physical pain endured during puberty and adulthood when aroused. I get it. This isn’t something you want to admit, that you feel pain, that you feel weak, that you endure embarrassment.
But let me share something with you on a completely different topic. A teen was having trouble not just eating everything in sight. And he blurted out to me, “You don’t understand! I have ACTUAL PHYSICAL pain!” And I had to look at him and say, “Yes. Everyone does. That’s called hunger. And you are NOT going to die if you wait one more hour until dinner. You don’t get to eat anything you want just because you *physically feel hunger.*”
Men, please take this to heart. When violent misogynists (like the monster from the killings in Isla Vista at UCSB) declare that it’s “just not fair” that women are teasing him with their sexuality, and complain because of “involuntary celibacy” (good grief, these men have coined the word “incel” to whine about their sexual frustration), they are taking the *physical pain of hunger* to a new level. Dude. You’re hungry. We get it. But you don’t get to shoot up a restaurant because you’re hungry. You don’t get to demand women’s intimacy because you’re lustful.
And don’t give me some crap about how “society made him sick” with all the marketing images, media, and pornography. You don’t get to blame anyone else because you willingly and consciously indulge a petulant, childish behavior and use it for an excuse to lash out with hatred and anger.
No. One. Owes. You. Sex.
You want to know how to be in a trusted relationship? You want to know how to find intimacy? Grow the hell up and be mature. Stop throwing temper tantrums worthy of the most obvious two-year-old. You’re not two years old.
I wrote on twitter earlier today two specific posts:
* Note to the men in my life whom I trust, thank you for being trustworthy and not killers. I recognize you. I trust you.
* Problem is when someone says, “But I’m a nice guy!” you need to remember that the killers say that, too. So that happened.
Occasionally, I have to go out of my way to comfort the men in my life who are not killers. And while I have trusted men in my life, there’s a small inner part of me that’s rolling my eyes. I cannot believe you’re looking for comfort because women have been hurt by men and *you* aren’t automatically trusted.
There’s an analogy going around on #YesAllWomen — Here’s a bowl of M&Ms. 10% of them have been poisoned, but we won’t tell you which ones. Go ahead. Have an M&M. Not all of them are poisoned.
The internet has make trolling more obvious and more prevalent, with the ease of anonymous threats, comments, and harassment. Women who speak up (about, good grief, ANYTHING) are threatened with rape and violence and death. Then they are tracked down and harassed by phone and in person. And some have actually died. Let me say that again:
WOMEN ARE DYING.
Because *some* men are violent misogynists who think that women *owe* them something, are only supposed to be *used* by men, who must conform to a specific body shape and type, who are shamed if they are too fat or too thin, who are labeled sluts if they *do* conform to the body ideal….
Women Are Dying.
And #YesAllWomen are suffering because of it.
There’s this notion that men could learn to be a “Pickup Artist” (PUA) and if they know how to “play the game” correctly, the prize is that you “win” sex from a woman. Women, *personally* as humans, aren’t even the prize in this game. Fucking a woman is the prize. The man acts upon an object, then the man wins. The woman isn’t even a person in this philosophy.
This is what the violent misogynist *chooses* to believe and act on.
And because of this, I personally can cite the following:
* As a middle-school girl, a man in a car stopped alongside me while I was on my bike, to show me that he was not wearing pants and he was masturbating while watching me ride my bike.
* I was taught how to walk with my car keys in my fist, so that I could fight back if/when I was attacked.
* I was told that I should “feel complimented” if men catcall me on the street.
* Men told me that if I “started something” with them, I would be obligated “to finish” them because it wasn’t fair if I got them aroused.
* On the dance floor in college, strangers would grind their pelvis against me, to “prove” that they were hard and then would attempt to get me to “relieve” them because it was my fault they were aroused. (It’s no wonder I hate going clubbing or dancing now. I hate party crowds and avoid them at all costs now.)
* I had one dating relationship in which he came home angry about something at work. He was so angry that he wanted to have rough sex because of it. I “gave in” because I thought if he calmed down, then he wouldn’t be angry at me and therefore I wouldn’t run the risk of being raped.
And I feel fortunate that I wasn’t molested or raped as a child, or molested worse than these stories above.
How sick is it that I have to FEEL LUCKY IT HASN’T BEEN WORSE. Yet. There’s always the risk that *worse* is just around the corner. It could be when I’m traveling alone–whether driving or on public transit. It could be when I’m out with friends and get trapped by someone’s forcible attention. Or it could be that I’m just out and about and a stranger decides to go ballistic like the IV shooter.
I want to run a marathon someday. To be honest, I haven’t started training because I am terrified of running alone in public.
And while I have the “advantage” of being “overweight” by society’s standards–so I am actually harassed sometimes less frequently than my thinner sisters–there are some violent misogynists who attack fatter women *more* because they feel like we are worth less than our thinner sisters. Since we *don’t* meet their “ideal,” then we’re not just “sluts,” we are called “fat sluts.” And some days I have to wonder why I would ever want to conform to the “society ideal” for body size, because I know that I would just *increase* the frequency of stranger advances and unwanted attention.
#YesAllWomen have been harassed. All of us. We *all* know how dangerous it is to be a woman nowadays.
And no, I will *not* “blame society” for making men “sick.” Men who are violent made their own choices. They never bothered to try to become mature and understanding and patient and *HUMAN.* So I will hold each of them personally responsible for being poisoned.
I have no idea how to “fix” society. I only know how to individually communicate with the women and men in my life. And I will continue to encourage people to grow up, become more mature, think before you act, think about someone else, be respectful, be patient, be considerate, learn to communicate, learn to listen.
And if you ask a yes/no question? BE PREPARED THAT NO IS AN ACCEPTABLE ANSWER. Because it doesn’t matter if you’re asking, “May I sit with you?” or “May I kiss you?” or “May I buy you a drink?” If someone is not interested, respect their answer. Walk away if they say no. Teach your children this. Model this behavior in society. Expect this behavior from the people around you. Ask permission, don’t ask for forgiveness.
Live your own life in a respectful fashion. Don’t expect anyone to hand you anything. If you develop friendships, care for your friends. This garbage that there is a “friend zone” that is a lesser “prize” and derogatory is complete nonsense. No one owes you intimacy. Friends should be treasured. If we’ve granted you friend-status, that is actually a prize. Because we don’t have to be your friend. We don’t have to trust you. If we choose to trust you as a friend, maybe you are a nice guy. Now act like it.
Because #YesAllWomen have been betrayed. Don’t be that guy.
Note: I’m overwhelmed with how many people have read and shared this post, and likewise feel compelled to reply. However, comments are moderated. Not every comment will be approved. This is my blog and my safe space. I get to decide what posts.